Ducey signs legislation to improve outcomes for ELL students

Business News | 14 Feb |

Governor Ducey today signed SB 1014, giving public schools and teachers of English Language Learner (ELL) students more flexibility to develop instructional models that best fit the needs of their communities. Sponsored by Senator Paul Boyer and Representative Michelle Udall, SB 1014, which passed the Legislature with unanimous support, eliminates the rigid 4-hour state-mandated block of English-language instruction and instead allows public schools and teachers to develop their own research-based models based on the needs of their individual students.

“School principals and teachers know what it takes for their students to succeed,” said Governor Ducey. “This bill provides educators the flexibility they need to ensure the highest quality language, literacy and academic outcomes for their students. My special thanks Senator Boyer and Representative Udall for introducing this legislation and to all of our ELL teachers and support staff in our schools for their dedication to our students.”

Currently, public schools are required to remove ELL students from their regular classrooms to receive four hours of intensive language proficiency instruction. This one-size fits all model has proven restrictive, preventing the use of other instructional strategies proven effective with ELL students, particularly those students whose language proficiency is advanced, but not yet proficient.

“By giving ELL students more time with their English speaking peers, SB 1014 will give these students a greater opportunity to succeed,” said Senator Paul Boyer. “I’m grateful to the legislature for its unanimous support and Governor Ducey for signing it.”

“SB 1014 empowers local educators to make instructional decisions for ELL students based on their individual needs rather than being limited to a state-imposed one-size-fits-all approach,” said Representative Michelle Udall. “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for overwhelmingly passing SB 1014 and Governor Ducey for signing it into law.”

While SB 1014 provides flexibility, the models must be approved by the State Board of Education to ensure that the models align to Arizona’s English language proficiency standards and include oral and written language in a structured environment for at least 2 hours a day that is inclusive of reading, writing, and comprehension strategies with integration of grade-level content. The bill also removes onerous reporting requirements for public schools and directs the Arizona Department of Education to collect data and analyze the effectiveness of all approved models to identify best practices that can be shared among public schools and educators.

“For the past two decades, Arizona’s English language learner students have suffered from a misguided policy that left them isolated, undereducated, and unprepared to enter the workforce,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “The passage of this legislation will give tens of thousands of ELL students a greater chance at success in school and in life, and their success will benefit all Arizonans. I applaud the Governor and Legislature for supporting this bill, and the advocates who fought so hard to make this happen.”

“We are so grateful to Senator Paul Boyer and Representative Michelle Udall for championing this landmark legislation to improve the quality of education for some of our most challenged students,” said Rebecca Gau, Executive Director of Stand for Children of Arizona. “We are extremely grateful to the legislature for their unanimous support, and to Governor Ducey for recognizing this critical issue.”

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